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I am grading so many essays tonight. I just had three writing courses end, so it’s Thursday–extra. But I wanted to write a quick note tonight to encourage everyone who might see this to join us tomorrow night for an online book party. It’s the first of several events we have lined up to celebrate our print annual–and all things farmer-ish. It’s tomorrow night, October 14, at 7:30 PM ET. And here is the direct Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81298558102?pwd=ZENBbWhxeTRiZVgzcmNINEQ1L0Rydz09. If you are asked for a password, use this: farmer-ish
And, since I have been reading my introduction to the annual to practice for tomorrow night, for a quote tonight, I am quoting myself. This is from the introduction to the book. It says a lot about who we are and what’s in the book. I hope to see you at the book party tomorrow night if you can make it. The writers sharing their work are just magnificent. I know you will love them. Plus, there will be prizes.
In 2020, when the world locked down, I noticed a flurry of essays about Henry David Thoreau and what he could teach us about solitude. This made some sense to me, but Thoreau was not as isolated as some would think. After all, he said himself that he had three chairs in his cabin at Walden—“one for solitude, one for friendship, three for society.” Thoreau was close to his family and friends and saw them often. And, after some time living at Walden, people would gather at Walden to hear Thoreau talk about his experiences.
I find it is now, as we are dealing with societies stressed by climate change, that Thoreau has the most to teach us. Thoreau’s themes of social justice, environmentalism, human and animal rights, and frugality resonate with me more than ever. It is through the writing of people like Thoreau that I find comfort and hope as humans navigate a time of great challenge. Rivers are drying up. Crops are failing. Without water, farmers are being forced to sell animals they can no longer care for. It’s a stressful time for sure, but humans are resilient. I have to believe we can do better and be better. For me, Thoreau leads the way.
Just last month, I had the honor of visiting Walden Pond in Concord. My son and I hiked around the pond to the site of Thoreau’s original cabin. There, in the woods, an idealist who loved nature and wanted to make sure technology didn’t advance without concern for humans and the environment, set out to live differently, deliberately—and write about it. Visiting the site, touching the ground, and putting my feet into the pond was transformative. I am no Thoreau, but I have collected for you beautiful writing from skilled and talented writers who, much like Thoreau, are finding ways to live authentically and are willing to write about it for us.